NORMAN — The idea was to get ready for Duke. At the very least, eventually, the Oklahoma women made way for the second-ranked Blue Devils, clearing out Western Illinois 97-80 Wednesday night at Lloyd Noble Center.
The Leathernecks came into the game known for moving the ball and piling up points. They didn’t disappoint, entering averaging 79.4 per outing and matching it against the 17th-ranked Sooners.
OU simply scored more.
“Western Illinois played hard an they played well tonight,” Sooner coach Sherri Coale said. “They shot the ball extremely well and they played their tails off for 40 minutes.”
A rare college basketball occurrence, both teams made more than half their shots, with WIU canning 51.9 percent (28 of 54) and OU canning 54.3 percent (38 of 70).
Of all the things Coale wanted to see her squad do, rebounding was atop the list. Yet with so few missed shots, rebounding dominance wasn’t really available. OU still maintained a 36-27 advantage and though Coale said she’d have to watch the game tape to know if progress was made, she suspects some was.
“There were lots fewer possessions in which I lost my mind because people were blatantly not doing what they were supposed to do,” she said. “Sometimes when we didn’t get the rebound, we were all trying to do the right thing and that’s all we ask.”
The brightest spot for OU was shooting guard Aaryn Ellenberg, who finishing with a team- and season-high 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting and 7-of-12 3-point shooting. Perhaps as important, she was looking for chances to get her shot off from the tip.
Ellenberg led a big and balanced attack that included 14 points from Morgan Hook, 13 from Nicole Griffin and 12 from Sharane Campbell. Hook and Ellenberg each dished five assists and Campbell added a trio of steals.
OU established its first 10-point lead, 20-10, 13:28 before the half, but WIU was Pesky.
The lead was 17 points at intermission and 21 with 18:20 to play. But it was back to 11 with 14:54 remaining and only 12, 67-55, with 12 minutes remaining.
Other games of local interest:
TULSA (M) 98, TEXAS SOUTHERN 71 — Using a 28-6 run ending the first half, James Woodard scored a season-high 25 points for TU (2-6). Rashad Smith and Pat Swilling each added 14 points. Shaquille Harrison had 11 points and Rashad Ray added 10 points off the bench for the Hurricane. Smith added a game-high 11 rebounds
MISSOURI 86, ORAL ROBERTS (W) 64 — Missouri moved to 8-1 with the home win. Dorottya Balla led the Golden Eagles (1-6) with a career-high 15 points. Ex-Muskogee Rougher Alexus Wilson had eight points for ORU.
ARKANSAS (W) 54, KANSAS 53 — At Lawrence, Kan., Keira Peak led four Lady Razorbacks in double figures with 20 points. Arkansas is 9-0, Kansas is 4-4.